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Bird Watching for Beginners - How To Identify Birds

Jul 4, 2008
If you enjoy watching birds, more than likely you are going to want to learn how you can identify them. While it can be exciting to be able to identify birds, it isn't always a simple task; in fact, it can be downright frustrating much of the time. Of course having a good field guide is an excellent idea. However, you'll have to have some knowledge of your own even to be able to accurately use the field guide. So, if you are a beginner at bird watching, the following are a few tips that can help you more accurately identify birds.

What's the Bird's Size?

One of the most important factors in identifying a bird will be its size. Is it the size of a robin? A chicken? Perhaps an ostrich? Size is important here, as is the ability to evaluate the body type of the bird you are watching. Would you characterize the bird as long or short, plump or skinny? Take the entire body into account, including the beak, tail and wings (both size and shape) when making this evaluation.

Note the Colors

What colors does the bird exhibit? Certain birds tend to exhibit certain colors, so you can identify some birds by color or pattern alone. However, colors, too, can be tricky. The lighting can affect the color so that the bird appears a different color than he or she really is. In addition, make sure you note colors on each part of the body as well. Are the legs of a certain color, or are the wings? Are there any specific and unique markings anywhere on the body that you could use to help identify the bird?

Where are You?

You can also identify birds by location in many cases. Certain types of bird tend to live in certain types of terrain. So whether you are in a forest, in your back yard or out on the ocean will have a bearing on what types of birds are present.

Listening to Identify Birds

One of the most important tips for beginner bird watchers that want to identify birds is to listen. Every single bird has a unique song that they sing and if you listen you may be able to identify the bird just by what you hear. If you are listening closely you may even see some birds that you would have never seen otherwise, and while this won't always help you identify a bird, it can definitely help.

So, next time you go out bird watching, keep all of these tips in mind. They'll help you identify the birds you see and have a more fun and rewarding experience out in the wild.
About the Author
William Scott has authored several bird watching articles. You can learn more about backyard birding on his site at http://BirdWatchingAdvice.com .
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